Joe Manganiello is launching his new line of Death Saves streetwear with apparel inspired by classic Dungeons & Dragons aesthetics at San Diego Comic-Con later this week.
The Justice League and True Blood actor will be appearing at the Bait store in San Diego on July 19th to promote his new collaboration with D&D, which includes jackets, shirts, and rings that features classic characters like Kargoth the Undying and a Beholder. Not only will Manganiello be working the cash register and signing autographs from 1 PM to 3 PM, the store will be selling special designs and color-ways only available to those in attendance. There will also be a special D&D/Metal-themed DJ set by mashup master Z-Trip.
ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Manganiello about his new streetwear line and why he chose D&D for his first collaboration. "The simple answer is, I wanted to make bad-ass streetwear geared to people that were into the fantasy genre, ie: skulls and flames, dragons and lightning, that honored and elevated my artistic influences growing up," Manganiello said when asked about why he started the new streetwear line.
Manganiello noted that when he was growing up in the 1980s, there weren't as many "sub-genres" as there were today. "There were more crossovers in my opinion," he said. "Everyone who loved Lord of the Rings also listened to Metallica and had an Iron Maiden T-shirt, and had a glow-in-the-dark Led Zepplin poster on their wall, and played Atari 2600, and hung out in comic book stores, and read Michael Moorcock and watched Robotech. It was a lifestyle."
"I think that the amount of choices presented due to the age of the internet has split people apart into smaller groups that actually belong together," Manganiello added. "Death Saves is my rallying call to re-unite my generation under the banner of our respective childhoods while introducing the new generation to a fresh take on where sci-fi and fantasy all began and in my opinion are headed back to."
The Death Saves line of D&D apparel presents a very retro and metal take on the popular tabletop game. While this aesthetic has always been part of the game, most people don't associate the badass look of Death Saves with the game. "I think people don't know what D&D is," Manganiello said when asked whether his line could help break down some of the preconceptions people have about the game. "They've heard of it, but they don't understand it. And that's one of the big reasons why our first collaboration is with Dungeons & Dragons. Even after almost 50 years, it's still mysterious to the general public and I see that as an opportunity to make and change people's minds about it."
Manganiello pointed out that he grew up during the "Satanic Panic" that singled out D&D as being evil, and noted that his generation would remember the notorious Ed Bradley interview on 60 Minutes that blamed D&D for kids committing murders and suicides, only to find out weeks later that it wasn't true. "Kids like me that grew up playing the game knew the truth, but the result of the witch hunt was that it bonded us together like a secret society you couldn't talk about," Manganiello said. "I wanted that feel for Death Saves."
Death Saves' line of D&D apparel will feature popular monsters like the beholder, along with some deeper cuts into D&D lore. One of the characters prominently featured in the line is Kargoth the Betrayer, D&D's first Death Knight. "I want to give people fresh looks at popular monsters and characters and also expose some deep cuts of some ones that they may not know of or remember," Manganiello said when asked why he picked out Kargoth to be featured in the line. "Kargoth was perfect for those reasons. A Death Knight, aside from being awesome aesthetically, is immediately recognizable. Basing it on a specific piece of D&D lore adds an element of history as well."
Manganiello has plenty of plans for Death Saves' in the future. He mentioned that he'll be debuting a Dragonlance shirt at Gen Con in a few weeks. The line is also adapting some awesome old '80s advertisements for D&D into a line of T-shirts. "There's a lot coming," he said when asked about what's next for the line.
Another collaboration that Manganiello is working on is on a line of Death Saves apparel based on Frank Frazetta's classic fantasy art. "He was the godfather of fantasy art and so many of his images have influenced me on a creative level," Manganiello said of Frazetta. "I couldn't be happier about that."
Death Saves will debut their first line of D&D streetwear at San Diego Comic-Con on July 19th. The apparel line will then go on sale on Death Saves' website on July 20th.